Preview: Student Motorsport Challenge Powered by 3D 360 makes debut visit to Donington for rounds 16 – 17

(Photo: MSV)

The Student Motorsport Challenge, the inter-series for school, college and university teams within the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, makes its first visit to Donington Park for the penultimate weekend of the 2023 season.

The SMo Challenge welcomes 3D 360 as the sponsor for Donington. Based in Leigh, near Manchester, 3D 360 is a training provider to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), delivering fully funded two, three and five-day courses in 3D CAD and 3D printing. The company also delivers bespoke training material to upskill existing staff and provide newly trained staff to businesses. 3D 360 will soon be expanding their training offering to Lancashire and beyond. 

The company will be donating 3D printers as prizes for Student Motorsport Challenge entries. Details on the criteria for winning this valuable equipment will be announced in due course.

Seven SMo Challenge teams will compete for class and overall honours around the 2.5 miles of the Donington Park National circuit. It will also be the first visit to the National circuit for the CityCar Cup Championship since its inaugural weekend in May 2021.

After the SMo Challenge’s previous outing at Brands Hatch which saw multiple accidents and non-finishes, the grid will be looking for a competitive but less eventful weekend.

Missing from the Student Motorsport Challenge entries for Donington will be the #11 Barracksport Citroen C1 which was a victim of one of the incidents at Brands. Driver Andy Dyer was involved in a nasty accident in the second CityCar Cup race of the weekend and, although he was thankfully unhurt, the damage to the #11 entry was sufficient to require a new donor car before the familiar red-and-white livery of the Oxford-based team can be seen back on track.

The CityCar Cup Championship rounding Paddock Hill Bend – August 2023 (Photo: Sam Martin – Aston Studios)

The Student Motorsport Challenge standings are currently led by Team Northbrook Racing and its #65 Peugeot 107 driven by Richard Jepp. Emma Norton’s team look on course to retain the title which they won on the final race of the 2022 season after Richard Jepp won the first eight rounds in class of the 2023 Challenge season. Except for a 7th in class finish at Anglesey, the team has never finished off the class podium this year.

Jepp has been pushed hard since the Anglesey rounds, however, by Jack Wheeler in the #57 East Surrey College Citroen C1. To make up a gap of 43 points, including dropped scores, over the final four rounds of the 2023 season would be a big ask but Wheeler will definitely not be allowing the orange TNR entry to disappear into the distance for the title.

As previously mentioned, Jack Wheeler, driver of the #57 East Surrey College Citroen, has been on a charge since round five at Croft in May. After taking his first victory in class in the third race at Anglesey, Wheeler has gone on to take the Student Motorsport Challenge chequered flag first on four further occasions.

The team, led by George Keith, were bitterly disappointed to record a DNF in the final race last time out at Brands Hatch when contact led to steering damage and Wheeler came to a stop at Druids. ESC will be looking to make up for that non-scoring round with a strong showing in Leicestershire.

#12 QEM Citroen driven by Arthur Simondet (Photo: Sam Martin – Aston Studios)

QE Motorsport joined the Student Motorsport Challenge for the first time at Croft in May. The team’s smart, blue-and-yellow liveried Citroen driven by Texas-raised but London-based driver Arthur Simondet finished second in class on its first outing at Croft. Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate is the only team on the Student Motorsport Challenge grid to have team members of school age so their achievements in 2023 have been nothing short of remarkable.

Simondet suffered bad luck in the opening round last time out when a competitor made contact on the run down from Paddock Hill Bend. The result was that the #12 car finished in the gravel and suffered substantial damage. Fellow teams in the Student Motorsport paddock pitched in to assist QE Motorsport and the #12 Citroen was ready for racing on the Sunday.

Currently sitting 5th in the SMo Challenge standings, Simondet and QE Motorsport will be hoping for better luck at Donington this weekend.

Alan Barrett’s West Suffolk College and driver Haydn Payne will be full of confidence as the team prepares for Donington. Payne, son of #73 driver Andrew Payne, drove to two SMo Challenge podiums last time out at Brands Hatch, finishing second in the final CityCar Cup race of the weekend.

Currently 4th in the class standings with four rounds remaining, the West Suffolk College crew will be looking to climb the table, given the absence of the #11 Barracksport Citroen from Donington and the current pace of young Haydn Payne.

Although Harry O’Donoghue’s Barracksport squad will be missing its #11 car, it will be welcoming back the #49 Barracksport GSR Citroen of James Smith.

Following significant damage sustained during round eight at Anglesey, the #49 Barracksport Citroen required a new donor car and a huge amount of work by the team to get tech entrepreneur James Smith back on the grid. Delays in parts deliveries prevented Barracksport GSR from getting on the grid at Brands Hatch but the #49 car is back for Donington and Smith will be raring to go.

James Smith is still building on his racing experience so it would be unfair to expect miracles but the team, focused on one car for Donington, will be looking to score some solid points around the National circuit and continue to develop the pace of its driver.

Lee Crisp’s Boston College Racing team entered the SMo Challenge at Anglesey and driver Liam Browning, who already had significant experience in CityCar Cup competition, immediately made his mark with a podium finish on his first outing in the Student Motorsport Challenge. Boston College Racing have taken two further podium finishes in 2023 and currently lie 7th in the class standings but the team endured some bad luck last time out at Brands Hatch when contact took them out of round 14.

The team has worked incredibly hard to get the #91 car ready for Donington and Browning will be eager to repay that dedication with a haul of points for the penultimate weekend of the 2023 season.

SMo Challenge podium after round 15. Emilia Vincent (R), Haydn Payne (L) and Richard Jepp (C) (Photo: Sam Martin – Aston Studios)

Emilia Vincent, driver of the #174 Wiltshire College and University Centre Toyota Aygo, was wearing the biggest smile in the Brands Hatch paddock after she took her first podium finish in race three around the Indy circuit in August. The Wiltshire College and University Centre alumnus has had a steady campaign in the SMo Challenge in 2023, finishing every race she has entered and driving the #174 car to 6th in the standings. The podium finish at Brands proves that David Campion’s team has the pace to compete at the front in the Challenge class and Donington could well see Emilia Vincent jubilant on the podium once more.

Track Action for rounds 16 and 17 of the Student Motorsport Challenge, part of the BRSCC Nankang Tyre CityCar Cup Championship, gets underway at Donington with qualifying at 9.35am on Sunday September the 10th followed by two 15-minute races at 1420 and 1845. Live-streaming of the day’s racing will be found on the BRSCC’s YouTube channel.